Occasionally, taxpayers will find income left off of a return or deductions not taken, after the income tax return has been mailed. Taxpayers with questions regarding the amendment of a given return should request the specific IRS form designed to address the type of tax return in question. Taxpayers with questions regarding "open" tax returns, which are returns filed within the last three years, should seek assistance in amending those filings.

Taxpayers can file amended returns up to three years after the due date or filing date of the original return, whichever was later. So, taxpayers who filed their 2003 tax return on January 31, 2004, have until April 15, 2007, to amend those returns. A taxpayer who was granted an extension to file a return in 2002, and actually filed the return on July 15, 2003, would have until July 15, 2006, three years from the date the return was actually filed, to amend it.

Taxpayers should consider amending a return if the correction changes the tax liability. If information that was required to be on the return was omitted, the correction should be made as soon as the omission is discovered. If a deduction was excluded, the taxpayer may want to consider the likelihood of an audit risk before filing for an amendment. Although an amended return never guarantees an audit, amended returns are scrutinized by IRS employees rather than computers. As with most original returns, taxpayers should consult with tax advisors before amending sensitive or aggressive items on returns. Sensitive areas include tax shelter losses, large charitable donations of property, travel expenses, entertainment costs, automobiles expenses, and medical care costs.

Finally, taxpayers should not hesitate to file an amended return if they have adequate proof to substantiate the change, the tax savings are significant, and they won't expose other items on the return to unnecessary review.

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